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Henry reached out to touch the doors, and the more he fought it, the more the voice of the Raelian emperor mocked him. Tell me, Henry. Does the boy look like you? Does the proud blood of the Avaari flow within him, or has your whore given him too much of her mark?
“Silence,” Henry said, turning from the doors to break the illusion. He nearly stumbled upon a line of burnt skeletons strewn across the floor. “One more word and your death will be slow, I swear it. You will curse the day you first drew breath.”
The illusion had been broken, but the voice remained. I wish to know the face of my enemy, Karrok. When we come together at last, I wish to know it well.
“You will never touch him! Do you hear? You will never lay your hands on him!” Henry swung about, striking at the source of the voice, but it came from within, as slippery and foul as pond scum. The Beast will have his day, Karrok. You know it. One by one, those you hold dear will fall under his might. Your wife, your mongrel—even your precious Rahm shall be consumed by the Second Flame. But first, they shall all weep for you. You shall mark the beginning of the end.
The voice dragged Henry back into his false vision, forcing him to once again see the devastation he could not prevent. The windows blew apart around him as fire rained from the sky, drenching the White City in blazing destruction that consumed flesh, stone, and steel. It seemed like minutes before Henry finally took control of himself and stood before the emperor on his balcony, overlooking the growing inferno, listening to the sounds of screams. Tiberian’s hands were outstretched, his arms spread wide. His smile was filled with what Henry could only describe as pure, unhinged madness as he gazed upon the burning city and laughed. Even after Rahmirion took Tiberian’s head from his shoulders, that smile remained—and the emperor’s laugh could not be silenced.
“Nooooo!” Henry bellowed into the empty corridor. The vision was gone, and so was the voice. Those words stayed with him for nearly twenty years, but he had never heard them so clearly. He had tried to forget the look of glee on Tiberian’s face as fire bled from an otherwise clear sky.